It was exactly 3 years ago when I was truly realised I was part of the LGBT community and family – it was at Manchester Pride in 2014 at the start of the parade. As a community we do not always get along together – but when things go down, we always have each other’s backs. Manchester Pride, in fact any pride event, is a place where the LGBT community come together to show we are united and proud.
When I heard that a protest targeting the GMP (Greater Manchester Police) float by trans activities had taken place in the Manchester Pride Parade I was less than impressed. I then read the articles and heard accounts from witnesses. It simply did not make any sense to target the LGBT community, from other members of the LGBT community. There is no solidarity or pride in that.
Not In My Name
Let me be very clear – I absolutely support the basic human right of prisoners to be placed in prison of the gender they identify with – without a GRC (gender recognition certificate).
But this example of direct action DOES NOT move this cause forward, it sends it backwards.
It is very rare that I call out other trans people on their actions – but this action, at this time was poorly thought out, dangerous, and targeting the wrong people. It simply alienates the trans community from the allies we desperately need to help with our cause.
- The members of the GMP at Manchester Pride are trans allies.
- Manchester Pride is on high-alert following Orlando and the general terrorist threat.
- The Police do not put people in prison or run the prisons.
I will take part in any positive protest to move the trans and LGB community forward to better equality and understanding – but this simply was not one.
An event like Manchester Pride costs millions of pounds, attracts over a hundred thousand people, the LGBT nature attracts attention from extremists – security around this event is high, keeping people safe is a priority.
The GMP do not always get it right – but they do keep Manchester safe, and their recent records of supporting the LGBT community is very good. Manchester Pride is just one example.
I am not sure what I would do – but I am glad that the members of the GMP marching in the parade who were ‘attacked’ with smoke and flares and noise, and the other police (and stewards) protecting the event showed restraint in what must have been quite scary and upsetting at the time.
The Trans Prison Problem
The tragic cases of Vicky Thompson and Joanne Latham highlighted things are in a dreadful place for trans prisoners. The rules have not changed for trans prisoners since their deaths and the only guarantee of being housed in the correct prison is to have GRC.
- People should be placed in a prison of the gender they identity with – this should be based on a social and needs assessment, rather than a complex and expensive legally documented transition.
- Non-binary prisoners should be afforded the rights to choose a prison that they feel they will be safest in and one that most closely matches their gender identity.
- All LGBT prisoners should be protected from harm and hatred from other prisoners.
People who are sent to prison are criminals who have been sentenced – but this does not mean that do not have rights. We should expect justice to be served, however, trans people are a very vulnerable section of society and this must not be overlooked or ignored when sentencing and imprisoning.
My Next Hate Crime
When I next, as I will invariably have to, contact the police to report another transphobic (or homophobic) hate crime against me, I hope that I do not get to speak to a member of the GMP who was marching in the parade – when the flares and smoke went off – I am sure they were scared, and frightened when it happened. However, I am confident they will treat me with respect as they always have, but I could understand why they might not.
Links and Resources:
Vicky Thompson – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-34869620
The Ministry Of Justice – https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ministry-of-justice